Posted on Tuesday 8 July 2014 by Ulster Business

 Sparks to fly as farry shows shipyard metal

Employment and Learning Minister Dr Stephen Farry is pictured with Robert J Cooper, Chief Executive for Harland and Wolff.

The growing demand for welders from iconic Belfast company Harland and Wolff has prompted the Employment Minister to launch a specialist programme to train the metal fabricators of tomorrow.

Dr Stephen Farry has just launched a pilot scheme known as the Welding Academy where 30 trainees will be taught the basics and the finer details of welding, a skill Belfast was once world renowned for at the height of its ship building prowess.

While ship building has diminished, Harland and Wolff’s reinvigorated business focuses on offshore oil, gas and renewable energy build and refit.

As a result, it has had resurgent demand for experienced welders, particularly to help it refit the Blackford Dolphin oil platform which recently left the shipyard after a seven-month refit.

Robert J Cooper, Chief Executive for Harland and Wolff, said the new training scheme will help the company win new business.

“The manufacturing quality stipulated by our customers in the offshore oil, gas and renewable energy sectors is among the most demanding anywhere. This training project is essential to continue to develop the core skills necessary to compete on the international stage and bring these high value projects to our shores.”

Stephen Farry said the scheme is essential to maintain a flow of skilled workers.

“It will ensure that one of Northern Ireland’s most well known employers will be able to access a high quality, high calibre and highly skilled pool of welders. Looking forward, this improves the overall skill set in our workforce significantly and will help to ensure that other Northern Ireland employers can also draw on this expertise and help them to remain competitive in a demanding global economy.

The training programme, run through further education colleges, will last approximately six to eight weeks and will be advertised shortly. The best thirty candidates will be selected from those who pass a trade test to demonstrate that they have the necessary fundamental skills to benefit from the training. Further details will be available in due course from Jobs and Benefits Offices.

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